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Egypt Recap: Average Joe Edition

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Its all kicking off in Egypt, innit?

And since my FB, twitter and T.V. is filling up with people throwing about their views on what’s hip and happening in Egypt, I thought I might as well add my two pence into the mix. I’d hate to miss a good old bandwagon jumping. Other than following  a herd of sheep its my favorite past time. But enough about my hobbies and interests. Lets get crack-a-lackin.

What going on in Egypt I hear you ask?

Stuff, mainly. Loads of it to be precise. But for all those ‘detail’ nerds ima try and break it down as best I can.

That guy Morsi, you know, the guy that looks like an Egyptian accountant who has just spotted an extra dime

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Well he has been in power for over a year. And he hasn’t been faring so well. If Egypt was a football pitch and he was the only player on that pitch he would have scored an own goal by now. Side point, you know you have messed up when even the people who are against your overthrow unanimously choose to throw you under the bus in their argument against it.

Anywhozile, Morsi messed up and a sizeable segment of the Egyptian population had enough. They took to the streets like Morsi took to power causing a right old uproar. The opposition who have been whining ever since their loss to the big M jumped at this public display of aggregation like the MB jumped on the protests that overthrow the other big M. Sidenote, Egypt maybe try not electing a guy whose name starts with the letter M? Odds are you wont like him.

Morsi seeing all this ruckus decided to do the logical thing…the logical guy-in-the-middle-east-faced-with-opposition-thing that is and chat a lot of fraff about legitimacy and well not much else….well I hope it wasn’t much else cause to be honest I snoozed a good 2 minutes into the broadcast.

Anywayz, the military seeing all this drama unfold decided to get involved to remind Egyptians that they aren’t just bedazzled Rambo-esque young folk parading around in pretty tanks scattered randomly across the country. They actually do stuff…be it the wrong stuff. Well it was either that or go to war to prove their net worthiness. So they set a 48 hour ultimatum for the lads on either side to sort their shiz out.

Suffice to say, they didn’t sort their shiz out.

And so when the 48 hours was up… they decided to give Morsi the proverbial boot… well… to be honest it could have been the literal boot we have no way of knowing what actually went down. We know Morsi was overthrown not only cause the profits of Egypts firework companies- pun alert – skyrocketed  over night, but because Morsi chose to launch his hell naw sass against this ruling on a FB page. As a rule of thumb, you know someone is out of power when they are foregoing national state TV, instead opting to broadcast their important message on a social network site that lets people update banal statuses like ‘I’m hungry’, ‘OMG GOSSIP GIRL FINALE’, ‘I like ice cream’.

So what does this all mean?

Puts on serious cap

Well it means a lot. When somebody gets elected two pacts are made. One by the elected official to the people: I will serve you justly. And one by the people to the elected official: we will let you serve your term.

Its one of democracies foundations. That’s not to say there aren’t other components to democracy, because there are many, many components, from freedom of speech, to an independent media free of government censorship, to a just judiciary etc.

All these components are needed for a viable democracy. Morsi’s mistake was not respecting these components. Instead he mistook winning an election for winning the hearts and minds of all his populace.  These are two distinct things.

Morsi being kicked out of office before his term ended by a military coup is a breach of democratic principles. Aside from the obvious fact he got elected to serve a term, the more distressing thing is the form of his removal. Militarily.

The militaries role in essence is to defend the nation against external enemies. It is why historically it was formed and it is why in the west this institution remains wholly independent of the political process. It is a neautral entity and the thought of the military moving in and removing lets say, David-I’m-posh-as-a-crumpet Cameron from downing street would not only be politically charged act of treason but also wholly unacceptable.

But the problem with Egypt is not simply the military coup but the military itself. Ironically, it was a military coup led by Nasser which first initiated the 60 year long age of dictators that so begrudged the nation to rise up in protest in the first place. The military was also the institution that bestowed the Egyptian people with the gift of Mubarak. It is also the military through these upheavals which still stands institutionally as it did under Mubarak relatively unscathed. It is not to be trusted. History has taught us that much and the news that followed Morsi’s overthrow reinforces that view. Mere hours after his overthrow people were being arrested. From journalists like the ones in Aljazeera (who were still on air when the arrests were made) to around 300 Muslim brotherhood members.

If this doesn’t bother you then it should. You don’t trade one form of oppression for another. Freedom of speech is vital to a democracy and the fact that this is being  breached is an ominous sign to say the least.

It is ominous because it’s déjà vu’ for some political analysts. The same mistakes are being repeated over and over again. The only difference is a role reversal. Morsi fell because he failed to work with the opposition to form a stable government and constitution. His failure cost him his presidency. The result will be no different if the opposition fail to work with the Muslim Brotherhood. Whether you like it or not, they are here to stay for a good while at least. The sizeable amount of people who voted him in have not disappeared overnight, though some may have. To move Egypt decisively towards any real form of progress the word that needs to be in every politicians vocabulary is this: Compromise.

 

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The Insolence of some Muslims

With news circulating that Iran has pulled the film ‘A Cube of Sugar’ from consideration at the Oscars over the anti-Islam film I can’t help but let out a large sigh.

I have tried to avoid writing anything about this subject mainly because I kept wrongly thinking the fuss would all die down. But to no avail as a couple of weeks in from the film first scouting controversy people are still talking, tweeting and protesting about it. Not to mention the fact that the controversy surrounding that damned film has been topically name dropped by nearly all the relevant leaders in their recent speech’s at the UN summit.

So not wanting to be left out of the fray, here are my two cents on the subject.

Disproportionate reaction:

First things first, I believe the outrageously violent protests that were sparked by this film were firstly un-called for. I don’t care how offensive it was, you don’t respond to a movie that practically labels the people who follow the faith of Islam as savages by acting like savages. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Go ahead and protest, that is a right afforded to all, but protest like dam human beings. Having said that there were of course many protests that were carried out peacefully in many locations around the world. But with the world being the way it is, peaceful protests don’t enlist the media coverage as well as some angry flag-burning insult taunting Muslims losing their general shiz at a US embassy do.

US Focal point:

Another thing that has also annoyed me with regard to these violent protest is the fact they seem to be all aimed at US embassies or, in some cases, US franchises. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but last time I checked it wasn’t Barack Obama or any US senator or government official that was listed as a producer, director or even simple stage-hand in the credits of this nonsensical film. Too boot, I don’t remember any governmental budgets being set aside and stipulated for funding films *and to be honest, even calling it a film is in my mind giving it way too much credit* that spout hate-filled nonsense. This film was made by some twat who happened to have a U.S. citizenship. Hitler was born in Poland but you didn’t see the allied powers aiming all their ammo at Austria for simply being the homeland of the damned Fuhrer as opposed to Germany where boy had clearly set up shop during the war. Him being American is beside the point.

Over-Hype:

Another issue I find with all this controversy is the fact that the idiot who produced this beyond-a-low-budget-film-its-practically-replacing-the-Dead-Sea-as-the-lowest-point-on-Earth is that this tool has achieved what he set out to do. He has not only offended the people he set out to offend but also enraged a minority of those people enough to publicly make a**holes of themselves and further reinforce this negative ‘Muslamic Ray Guns’ rage stereotype of muslims. It’s like we Muslims aren’t complete unless we are seething with anger and burning a flag or 2. It’s utterly disgraceful. Adding to the fact that with all this extreme protesting more attention has been drawn to this film therefore affording it more publicity. The publicity means that more people are being exposed to the films insufferable views. Plus a point to note is that all the hits that are garnered on this video on Youtube do translate into money being paid to the uploader. The guy must be minted by now.

Priorities: Messed up:

And lastly I feel like these protesters who are so vehemently protesting the vilification of their prophet and religion are missing the bigger picture. Yes, the video was offensive, yes it was tacky. But can you not maybe think in this day and age of anything worse occurring that might be bringing a greater harm to your people? If you care so much about the muslim ‘ummah’ and the image of Islam surely you should be more outraged at the thousands of muslims being massacred in Syria? Have none of these hardcore touting muslims ever read this ayah in the Quran?

‘On that account We ordained for the Children of Isra`il that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity.’ Surah 5, verse 32

So where is the unbridled outrage at the death toll which numbers in the tens of thousands and which by far over-shadows the one person metaphor in this ayah? Or can the US flags you have stockpiled not wait to go up in flames?

I think the adequate response to a video like this is to simply give it the attention it deserves…which is none at all. It isn’t worth anyone’s time of day.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe as a Muslim this the movie is disrespectful, grossly offensive, racist and intolerant. I just believe the response to the hate eschewed in this film shouldn’t be more exaggerated and violent hate. You don’t win by one up-ing bigots.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Iran, Media, Middle East, Serious, Syria, UN, USA

 

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I got 99 problems and Iran is all of them

Today an Israeli newspaper reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjimin Netenyahu and his Defense minister would like to attack Iran’s nuclear sites before the November U.S elections. Despite their strident views they lack crucial support both within their cabinet and their military. That coupled with the fact that If a war with Iran was to be launched this would considerably shake and rupture the bedrock of ties between Israel and the US as the latter country has made it clear about its desire to avoid any conflict of sorts.

Israel Israel Israel, what are we going to do with you and your fixated paranoia? If Israel was a person by now there would be a restraining order out on its ass. The problem with all this isn’t that Israel has a problem with Iran, after all, many countries do, it’s how it goes about justifying and then exaggerating its problems. The ironic fact about this latest report by Israel is that US officials only just yesterday released a report highlighting that Iran is not only not on the verge of having a nuclear weapon but that Tehran has not even made a decision on whether or not it should pursue one. Now how Netanyahu missed this tid bit of information goes beyond me, but what this statement does is virtually punch massive holes into Israel’s current war rampant tirade.

This Israeli paranio and ‘blame Iran’ mantra was even extended to the recent attacks in Egypt which left 16 Egyptian border police dead. Israel was quick on the mark, pointing the finger startlingly at Iran. This claim against Iran is largely unfounded as even when Israel accused it of the attack it didn’t offer up a shred of evidence to justify its claim. This kind of behavior literally reminds me of playground politics. It’s like when there is a kid you don’t like in nursery because he has taken your shovel in the sand pit whilst you were busy dilly dallying about with bucket… you try and snatch it back (in kids terms that amounts to; excuse me sir, but I happen to notice that thou has attained thee’s shovel whilst thy was unaware) but the kid refuses to hand it back…so you shove over a plant pot and when asked what happened automatically say ‘Ayatollah did it’…….even though you are at home and a week has passed by and said Ayatollah is holidaying in Iran (Came together nicely in the end didn’t it?).

Now yea that analogy is a complete curve ball and if you think about it doesn’t reeeeeeally make that much sense but I just wanted to give a young kid named Ayatollah his 5 seconds of fame in this drama. Point is Israel, stop waging war on an unimagined reality. You don’t need to make-up vices against Iran to have a grudge against the country. The more you fabricate the less ingenious any of your claims will be. Plus, you know the people at the top in Israel are waning in their judgment (more so than usual) when they are ready to throw the towel in with the US for the sake of meting out this undue punishment to Iran. The funny thing is, Iran and Israel are two faces of the same coin in many respects. They  both like throwing around wild accusations at their enemies whilst turning a blind eye to their disdainful policies back home. They both like to take on this ‘me against the world’, ‘David vs Goliath’ attitude when it comes to defining their place on the world map. Also they are both largely seen to be pariahs in the region they reside in. So yea, practically twins.

Basically put your spears and war paint away Israel and settle right down … because unless you’re looking to be the newly added member of the Expandables cast, you’ve got no reason to be going anywhere with your battle cry, anytime soon.

 

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There is No Honor in Honor killing

Yesterday Iftikar and Farzana Ahmed were sentenced to life imprisonment for being found guilty of killing their 17 year old daughter Shafilea in an act of ‘honor killing’ in 2003. Their reasoning was that Shafilea was seen to be leading too much of a westernized life and therefore bringing disrepute to their honor in the wider community.

Cases like this are rare in the UK but in other parts of the Middle East and Asia there is shamefully a significantly higher number of ‘honor killings’. Those who usually carry out these degenerate acts usually use the cloth of religion to justify their actions. Over the years the practice has become wrongly intertwined or accredited to Islam. This is a false dichotomy to make as honor killings historically were practiced even before any major religion came into existence. Plus for those who claim some sort of a religious bearing for this act have obviously missed out  a major sin in Islam, one which is highlighted best in this verse of the Quran:

For that cause we decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. (5:32).[27]

Another thing to note is that even when a person has a legitimate claim to any case of wrong doing, Islamically the law cannot simply be taken into your own hands as the claim needs to be judged in a court of law before a ruling of any sort can be made.

Also, there is a blatant sexist divide in the logic that guides honor killings. The main target and victims of these killings are mainly woman, which begs the question if you were to use this theoretical argument of honor, does a man not dishonor his supposed family? Why is it only the women who seem to bear the honor of their family member’s reputation on their shoulders? Can a man do as he pleases without shaming or dishonoring his family? A shameful act is a shameful act regardless of a person’s sex. Having male organs and a bit of stubble/beard doesn’t exempt you from that.

What also puzzles me is how twisted the logic behind honor killings really is. How does it make sense in Shafilea’s parents mind? So their daughter has apparently brought shame on their family for being too westernized. The solution in their mind to this problem of shame was murder? Does the conviction, prison sentence and airing of their torrid affairs in public not merit any shame? Pop on a mini-skirt? No no. Murder someone? Go right ahead; just make sure you’re back for breakfast. I’m pretty sure on a sliding scale of dishonor the taking of someone’s life trumps listening to lady gaga and visiting the cinema.

Regardless of what anyone says honor killing should be given its deserved title, murder. Whatever way you look at it, be it religiously, culturally, theoretically etc. murder is a forbidden and callous act. It’s truly saddening to see that cases like this even exist in the first place. The people who are supposed to be your guides in life end up being the adjudicators to your abrupt and brutal death. The ease in which these parents manage to switch of their paternal and maternal instincts to nurture, love and care for their child no matter what is disturbing. Unfortunately for Shafilea, as the judge Mr Justice Roderick Evans put it most succinctly whilst addressing her parents:

“Your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than the love of your child.”

And that is where the true dishonor and shame lies.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Serious, UK

 

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Casualty: Mubarak Addition

One of the things that had continually dogged the Mubarak trial had been the health status of Hosni Mubarak. With the ending of the trial on Saturday, which convicted Mubarak of having failed to intervene to stop the killings of protesters, questions regarding his deteriorating health continue to enlist coverage. Since the trials had begun Mubarak had been in and out of hospital and had also demanded to be carried into court on a stretcher re-emphasizing his overall ‘fragile’ state and health.

Now some of you may point to all this as simple theatrics. Some of you may point to Mubarak maybe having ulterior motives in his depiction of himself as a weak and frail man. So he can enlist sympathy? So he can engender concerns over a breach of his Human Rights? Maybe he has his eyes on a particular prize. An Emmy? Dare say an Oscar? Since he has lost the presidential seat he might be looking for a back-up career as a Hollywood method actor.

No No, I say. That is not what all this hoopla surrounding his health is about. It’s all a misunderstanding, and if anything, Mubarak has been in fact, wronged. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at some of the points listed below:

Firstly, Mubarak’s health further deteriorated on Monday after a visit from his wife Suzanne Mubarak who sobbed at the sight of Muabarak in his blue prison suit. I understand your pain Suzanne…. How could they do this to your husband? BLUE PRISION SUIT? Have you no sense of shame or ounce of morality Egypt? You know that BLUE isn’t his color. It clearly does nothing for his complexion and washes out his face without bringing due attention to his eyes. Savages.

But if this fashion faux pas isn’t enough to engender your sympathy for Mubarak then maybe recanting some of these events may sway you.  See if you can stomach this. Right after his sentencing on Saturday Mubarak was transferred directly from the court by helicopter to Cairo prison hospital. Mubarak reportedly cried and tried to resist leaving the helicopter. Why I hear you cry? Because Mubarak was insisting he instead be flown to his luxury suit were he had been held during his trial. Mubarak…selfless as always. You see Mubarak didn’t want to trouble the doctors and nurses in the hospital with his ailments as it would divert undue attention from their care of other patients at their facility and therefore inevitably lead to an increase in their workload. He, like the selfless hero he is, instead wanted to tough it out ‘bear- grylls’ style in the harsh and barren conditions of his luxury suite. Brave man…. Putting others before himself.

But then I hear you ask, why was he seen on a stretcher being carried in and out of court throughout his trial? Surely if the man is not well enough to walk into nor sit in court he should be in a proper medical facility which can afford him the treatment he so desperately needs rather than holed up in the confines of his luxury non-medical abode? To this I say you are misunderstanding the situation. This is a clear case of Hosni simply being thoughtful. The man was simply thinking of the health of the people carrying his stretcher. He saw that a few people needed some extra bicep and tricep action and so offered to be there ‘weight-training-man’. He was simply giving them their dose of exercise for the day which as any well informed individual knows, is integral to leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

But on a serious note, Mubarak, man the F’ up. The sympathy afforded to you and the treatment you have received while being held on trial is a million times more gracious than that afforded to the political dissidents, martyrs, protesters and revolutionaries whom you crushed, repressed, tortured and beat in your quest to retain power. The tears and theatrics you and your family spill mean nothing in the wake of the destruction and corruption of your rule. You have had the wish of having your son Gamal Mubarak moved to a nearby cell near you granted.  The people you held, tortured and who died in your prisons were never afforded the means to say farewell to their loved ones and family let alone having any of their wishes granted. They weren’t afforded luxury suits while they waited trial, hell most of them never even got a day in court to face the ‘charges’ brought against them.

They say you reap what you sow, but if that was true, you would be sowing a painful existence rather than a mere inconvenience to your living standards.

 

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Self-Destruction: You Are Doing It Right

On Sunday Ahmed Shafiq, one of the two remaining candidates still in the running for the Egyptian presidency, gave a press conference in a luxurious hotel in Cairo. In it he stated that ‘the Muslim Brotherhood is the old regime’ and by old regime, he means that of Hosni Mubarak’s.

Now, mudslinging between opponents is unfortunately nothing new. Going toe-to-toe in the verbal ring of insults is a common fixture in many countries campaign run’s for office, and it seems Egypt is no different.

What is interesting to note though is the choice of insult Ahmed Shafiq has chosen to use. Muslim Brotherhood part of the old regime? You get ‘em son. Right in the money maker. That’ll clearly discredit them in the minds of many as who wants to be associated with that Z lister has been. Mubarak? That’s SO 1981-2011. That fad is well and truly over.

Ballsy Shafiq, Ballsy. You got this son. Not only can this guy give a punch but he can clearly take one. He can so badly take one that he is just out there metaphorically punching himself. How I hear you ask?

Well because not only did Ahmed Shafiq serve in Mubarak’s government from 2002-11 as a Minister of Civil Aviation, he was also appointed Prime Minister by the Top dog for 33 days during the Egyptian Revolutions.

So as you can see, Shafiq is clearly adopting a Kamikaze style approach to this presidential race, going all-out fight club on his own ass.  Ain’t no-one gonna take down and discredit the Shafiq-inator…except Shafiq

Campaigning… you are doing it wrong Shafiq.

 

 

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Crackin’ Down

So yesterday Obama announced that he had signed an executive order targeting people and entities who use technology to help authoritarian governments crack-down on dissidents.

Obama stated in his speech on Monday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington that:

“Technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to oppress them,”

Ultimately these new penalties are aimed at pressuring authoritarian entities that use information technology to commit human-rights abuse. But the US in its statement specifically signaled out and targeted Iran and Syria for condemnation. The U.S. treasury department has already slapped sanctions on six Iranian and Syrian companies & government branches along with the head of Syria’s intelligence directorate. The sanctions implemented will freeze any of the assets they hold in US jurisdiction whilst also simultaneously banning any US citizen from doing business with them.

Now I am not one to criticize any steps made to help inhibit any authoritarian regimes crackdown on its people. After all, it is true what Obama has said, technology should be used to benefit the human race rather than crush it. But where my contention lies is in the selectivity of this policy. As is made clear, the policy is aimed at Iran and Syria, two regimes that aren’t or have never been in the good graces of the West. With the daily protests and rising death toll in Syria its emphasis in the statement makes sense topically as well as politically since the UN is at loss at how to best ‘discipline’ the regime’s wanton violence. But some may frown at the inclusion of Iran. If we are looking at the crackdown on dissidents, unlike places like Syria it is not going through an abnormal uproar of dissent. So why was it included? Two words… Nuclear Weapons. These sanctions fit nicely into the US’s Iran agenda and hence their integral inclusion in the statement is explained.

Now don’t get me wrong, that isn’t to say there isn’t any dissent or human rights abuses taking place in Iran. On the contrary, its record on human rights is as bleak as any paranoid authoritarian’s regime. My point isn’t that Iran shouldn’t be included on the list, just that it should have been joined by the likes of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc. Its inclusion and especially Bahrain’s exclusion is comical. Bahrain has been spotlighted in the news lately due to the ongoing heavy-handed crackdown on protesters as the F1 race is held on its shores.  The silence on Bahrain doesn’t surprise me, though. It fits nicely into the current US stance on it, i.e. Turn a blind eye.

But another interesting thing to note is the statements focus on ‘technology’. One might wonder why stop at technology that facilitates the authoritarian governments to locate these dissenters, why not also ban the weaponry these regimes use to crack down on these dissenters? After all, knowing who your dissenters are isn’t the same as having the means to punish them. So what’s the hold up? The US is the hold up. It is the biggest arms trader in the world. Awkward to say the least. Don’t want to be seen to be shooting oneself in the foot. It seems the US’s moral compass on those who aide authoritarian regimes is lost when it comes to weaponry. Technology? No No, Dear God No. Guns & Bombs you say? How many you want?

To view this hypocrisy one simply needs to look at any of the many events that have transpired in the Middle East’s revolutionary up-heavel.  An example of this would be that during the crackdown on Egypt’s pro-democracy movement the protesters in Tahrir square were being told that the US stood by them (Regardless of how timid and late this stance was) in their battle for democracy… whilst they had tear gas canisters being fired at them daily with the words ‘Made in the USA’ proudly embezzled on the side. Hypocrisy, you’re doing it right USA.

The point I’d like to stress is the fact that this policy isn’t and shouldn’t be viewed as one void of US interests. Iran and Syria have abused their positions of power and have wronged their people and therefore should be punished no question about it. I applaud the step towards holding to account those who help authoritarian regimes wrong their people, but what I don’t applaud is an inherent selectivity and bias in these steps. It’s poignant that Obama made this speech in front of the Holocaust memorial. After all, it wasn’t technology that simply led to the devastating events of the holocaust, but weaponry.

People are not blind to hypocrisy and those who make grand overtures of being the ‘world’s police force’ should remember that. As the protests in the Middle East have shown us, eloquence of words and speeches from above do not make-up for the hollowness of in-action below.

Simply stated it should be: Accountability of all, in the interest of everyone instead of the few.

 

 

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